Counting for Something

Hooray, the Census is here! This is dead exciting, I love the Census. Mainly for its secondary purpose of “getting released to the public in a hundred years” rather than for the mass co-ordination of data the Government needs in order to best plan which public services are next on the tumbril, I’ll admit, but it’s still dead exciting.

Speaking as only the third or fourth generation of my family that’s actually been able to write their own answers to the census, as opposed to getting the recorder to stand in the doorway marking things down on their behalf, I love this stuff. I get to say that I’ve got a job, and a car, and a seven-room house, and everything. This is a massive step up on the 2001 census, when I was a waster student providing naff all in the way of exciting data for future generations to work things out from. I always find it very reassuring to be leaving a trail of handy pebbles for future generations to work from. No need to go making their lives difficult, at least.

On which note, speaking as future generation of my family, now seems like a reasonable time to point to the 1911 census. In 1911, my great-grandmother appears as Jessie Elizabeth Talbot, a resident of Aqualate Hall:

Aqualate Hall, taken some time in the 1900s

At 31 rooms, I’ve got to say it’s a bit of a step up on Earth, but odds are pretty good they didn’t have a car, so I guess it might balance out.  It’s actually only a little way out of Newport, where the bulk of my family ended up, but I’ve never been there, so I’ve no idea what it was actually like a hundred years back.

Actually, that’s not true, I know a little about what it was like in 1911. I suspect it wasn’t truly a 31-room house for a start; the above photo was taken some time prior to 1910, at which point the place burned down, and ended up looking quite… tired.

The ruined shell of the main building

I believe the stables and a few outbuildings survived, but the rest of it was left to decay for a while, before getting knocked down and eventually rebuilt in around 1927.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about that is that even with the building in the state it was in 1911, my great-grandmother was still living there, along with a handful of other staff, including a butler and gardener. This begs the question of where the Bougheys, who actually owned the place were staying. All very well shoving my great-granny in the stable block, but I can’t imagine actual rich people living like that.

That said, I imagine Jessie will have been relatively made up about whatever accommodation she was in, because it can’t possibly have been as cramped as her parents’ house, which apparently housed eight people in six rooms, which is not anything like enough rooms per person. (But then I’m entirely capable of feeling crowded when I’m one of two people in a warehouse, so I might be projecting a bit there.)

Meanwhile, over in Bedwellty, my maternal great-grandfather had thirteen people in six rooms, which is even worse. Although to be fair one of those was the three-month old Ida Margaret, so it wasn’t always that bad.

Even so, I have increased gratitude for the forthcoming size of New Earth, which gives us three floors to spread ourselves over, and thus greatly increases the chances that we’ll all make it to the 2021 Census in a fit state to declare that we have no serious disabilities, eg, having our legs chopped off.

(On a side note, I find myself mildly amused by the gentle schism that seems to have opened up between those Atheists that want to say they’re Atheist on the Census, because It’s Important To Be Accurate, and those who want to put themselves down as Jedi because It’s A Silly Game Anyway. I didn’t like the latter bunch ten years ago – not least because they showed a screaming misunderstanding of how the Census works – and it turns out I still don’t like them now. Apart from anything else, they seem to have swapped a screaming misunderstanding in favour of a slightly pointless public bickering contest, but then I say that as someone who doesn’t see the value in protesting a question anyway, let alone one that offers up all the ususal options and a box for “Other” in case you don’t have one of the major [a]religious outlooks. But, at any rate, it’s more amusing than the quasi-gentle schism that has Anglicans scurrying away to the Roman Catholics because they don’t like female clerics, which would be a far more dignified move if they didn’t keep stopping to shout “Look! See! I’m leaving! And I’m never coming back! Don’t try to stop me! I mean it! Look! You forced me into this! Look! I’m going! Over here!” every couple of months. ‘s a schism, dude. Damn things happen all the time. You ain’t special, you’re just trying to find a theology that fits for you. Like, y’know, everyone.)

In other news, I am looking forward to the next Murder Mystery. I have spent today distressing a pair of once vibrantly-blue jeans, which cost me £7 in Primark. They’ve actually come out quite well, given that I didn’t have any sandpaper, and had to make do with a knife and some bleach. (I don’t own any blue jeans, was the problem here, and I don’t especially like blue jeans, since there’s no way you can pretend they’re perfectly respectable trousers which happen to have a weird cut and tiny pockets, so I didn’t want to spend good money for someone else to bleach them). Was actually quite fun, and I’m fairly happy with my costume for this one, so ‘s something to look forward to…

And tomorrow I am going back to work, but the aforementioned work to level out the floor in my office has actually gone really well, so with a bit of luck I’ll be off the surprisingly noisy warehouse floor before Friday, even if it does take the IT people most of the week to come and move the computers for us*. So that’s nice.

*Yeah, for us. I am not sure why we can’t move them ourselves. Possibly there was a disaster where someone managed to move their computer and plug things in so as to connect the mains cable to their PS2 mouse and they exploded themselves and the company had to shell out three pounds sixty for a new mouse, or something. Something’s made the IT guys protective of the computers, anyway. Although I guess it could just be one of those quirks of attachment people develop after they spend ten years working with the exact same tools…

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  1. On March 14, 2011 Dan Q says:

    Good photos. That’s a serious hole in that central tower! The building’s looking more distressed even than your jeans!